Aretha Franklin So Damn Happy (Arista) You know an album hasn't made an impression when it goes around more than once on auto-repeat and you don't even realise it. Aretha Franklin she may be, but not even the Queen of Soul can make much from mulch. And this despite collaboration with musical royalty, including everyone from producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to Barry J. Eastmond and Mary J. Blige, who provides support vocals on two songs she co-wrote for the album (No Matter What and Holdin' On). While robust and rich, Franklin's voice unfortunately conjures a Little Shop Of Horrors fly trap with maw wide open, tonsils wagging like naughty hips. Perhaps this is because of her over-enthusiastic scatting and her inclination to sing inanities like 'I, I, I ... I, I, I think you're wonderful' between more doo-wops than anyone is entitled to. Her 12th album for Arista contains, and I quote from her public relations blurb, messages of empowerment (Good News) and happiness (Wonderful). Whether or not she has found joy, what comes through is a false blitheness: the songs sound like mere vehicles for Franklin, a child of the church, to show she can still sing anyone under a pew. Like her fans, of which I am usually one, Franklin must wonder how much longer she can command the R-E-S-P-E-C-T she won so easily in 1967. This time around, in Ain't No Way, the demand is more a plea than a prerogative.